Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Into Bolivia - The First Attempt

I was pretty excited to be leaving Argentina. I have been here for over 5 weeks with a side trip to Uruguay but I was ready for the change. Up next the very mysterious Bolivia. A country I could never have imagined getting to. I remember watching the old movie Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid with Newman and Redford. At the end of the movie they decide they are going to go to Bolivia to escape the Law in America. I can still remember thinking back then, "Bolivia, wow these guys are really nuts. It just sounded so foreign and mysterious.

I purchased my bus ticket on Flecha Bus. I just like saying Flecha Bus because it reminds me of my grade 7 teacher Joe Fletcher, Fletch. Coolest teacher possible. I have had some seriously bad teachers over the
years so Joe Fletcher gets a shout out! Anyways just a random memory thanks to Fletch Bus

A 7:15 departure means up at 6:00, a quick coffee which at Hostel Central is decent. A 20 minute walk to the Bus station gave me time for another coffee and then right on time the bus pulled in and we were ready to go. Bolivia and all its historical mysteries were now within my grasp.

The 2 hours to JuJuy was quick and easy however pulling into JuJuy I did notice the Penitentiary right in the middle of town. Huge guard towers with fully rigged out officers, open court yards when prisoners were in view some talking to other guards. I was going to sneak a photo but just at that moment a con from maybe 30 feet away looked at the bus and he was pretty freaking menacing. The camera quietly found its way back into my pack. This place was right in a residential hood so I suspect housing prices were very affordable if anyone is looking for a vacation property.

We set of from JuJuy and Bolivia was a mere 5 hours away, or so I thought. About 20 minutes outside of JuJuy we stopped. I did not think nothing of it
because the buses get stopped often and at random times by the police. Sometimes they just wave you through and other times they get on the bus and ask for your passport. It was routine, not scary and well just time consuming really. I found out it is not so much for drugs but human trafficing is a huge problem
here. Anyways we sat there for a bit, then a bit turned into an hour, then two.  The bus lurched and moved snapping me out of my daydream but only moved to the side of the road. This was not good!

I got off the bus stretching my legs and getting some feeling back into my but and it was then that I noticed the traffic. My fears were confirmed, there was trouble up ahead. The driver was frantically talking into his cell. Yup this was not good at all. He hung up, smiled at me and told me that there was a landslide about 6 km ahead. We were going to wait for some time to see if we could get through but that was unlikely. Well some time turned into 6 hours and at 4 pm we were finally told that it was impossible to get through. The slide was 4 metres thick and would take 2 days to clean up. I had been through this in Guatemala and know that cleanup is not done North American style with huge bulldozers and tractors. This was a man and shovel  operation.

Argentina was not letting me out of its grasp. I was suffering with Phil and Eva, a young couple from Australia and there was a collective "ah shit" then "what are you going to do". It was back to Salta and 14 hours later there we were, right back were we started, in Salta.

We walked to the 9th of June square, found a restaurant with an outside terrace. I was freaking hungry so I chowed down on a lomo, cheese, egg and ham sandwich with fries and a couple of well deserved litres of Quilmes and all was right in the world again. There are worse things then being trapped in in Salta Argentina on a warm night drinking cool beer.

Well Bolivia I will not be denied!

Today, Tuesday the 7th, I woke up and said to myself, "self you are not going to wait two days and hope the roads are clear". My self responded 'Ken, you are right, now go book a flight and the costs be damned"

Making that decsion easier was the fact it rained last night, adding to the possibility of more mud slides. I checked various other routes into Bolivia including going back  to San Pedro De Atacama Chile but a flight to Lap Paz was the only choice really.

Lan and Aero Lineas had offices here but no direct flights to Bolivia so screw you jerkys. Aero Lineas flew to BA then Bolivia but that made no sense. I was directed to Air Sur who I had never heard of.  I found the office and had a ticket booked for the Wednesday the 8th in about 15 minutes.

The sun is out but it is not blazing hot today thanks to the rain. I dont have to be to the airport until 2:00 tomorrow so this is going to be a lazy crazy day in Salta. Maybe I will have another beer.

1 comment:

AC said...

I hope that you have a good aclimatization before going to La Paz. If not try to find coca leaves as soon as posible ;-)

Marcin from Poland